Coopeassa Cooperative has been a leader in organic agriculture development in Costa Rica. The cooperative converted its farming operation to organic over 10 years ago in its production of coffee, citrus and banana.
Now, in 2017 Coopeassa begins harvesting its first organic certified pineapple crops for export markets.
This development began over two years ago when the group realized that in order to expand economically, they would have to diversify their crops. Coffee has a limited profit per hectare, and the bananas were sold into domestic processors at large margins.
Organic pineapple production became the most popular concept for achieving this commercial empowerment for the community of growers. Coopeassa hired top organic pineapple agriculture engineers and fertilizer experts from the other pineapple growing regions, and built out its pineapple operation from the ground up.
The cooperative is filled with excitement as the first harvests get ready to be sent to leading produce distributors in the United States and Europe.
It will take some time for the cooperative's brand image to establish itself with consumers and retailers, however we are confident Coopeassa will be positioned as a best in class organic pineapple grower.
The quality of Coopeassa's organic pineapples goes well beyond the fruit itself. The fruit is grown entirely on small plots by independent farmers. The other exporting organic pineapple farms in Costa Rica have farms of 50 hectares up to 1500 hectares. These are large scale industrial operations. Coopeassa's largest pineapple farming area, by comparison is only 5 hectares. Furthermore, the farms maintain strong biological corridors, and the farm workers are all treated with the highest level of integrity and respect. The farms are located at 700-800 meters altitude, which is abnormal for commercial pineapple, which normally is grown closer to sea level.
It is a community project and an incredible example of the success a cooperative can achieve when working together to create high quality organic agriculture operations.
I was fortunate the try the organic pineapple on my last visit to Coopeassa. The fruit was incredibly sweet and had an intense taste that I call "pineapple heaven."